Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class A330-300 Male To Hong Kong

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific, Travel

I was quite excited to finally fly Cathay Pacific’s new business class on a somewhat longer flight. While I’ve flown Cathay Pacific’s longhaul first class a countless number of times, I had only once flown Cathay Pacific’s reverse herringbone business class, for the short flight between Bangkok and Hong Kong. So I was excited to finally be able to review it on a much longer journey, from Male to Hong Kong to Newark.

After all, reverse herringbone seats are my favorite kind of business class hard product… hopefully I’d feel the same way after spending almost 24 hours in one. 😉

Cathay Pacific 602
Male (MLE) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Saturday, April 11
Depart: 10:00PM
Arrive: 7:45AM (+1 day)
Duration: 6hr45min
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Seat: 12K (Business Class)

When I boarded through the forward door the entire business class cabin was still empty, as I seemed to be one of the few passengers on the first bus who was in business class.

Cathay Pacific’s reverse herringbone business class is in a 1-2-1 configuration, with direct aisle access from each seat. There are a total of 39 seats in business class — 28 spread across seven rows in the forward cabin, and then nine spread across three rows in the rear cabin (there’s a missing seat in one of the rows there, due to the location of the lavatory).

Cathay Pacific A330-300 business class cabin

Cathay Pacific A330-300 business class cabin

I had selected seat 12K, which is the window seat in the second row of the aircraft (the seat numbering only starts with row 11). Cathay Pacific was the first airline to introduce this exact “evolved” reverse herringbone seat (US Airways had a reverse herringbone seat first, but it wasn’t quite as advanced), and it’s fantastic. I especially love how private it is around the head area, including the “widget” sticking out from the side of the seat, which adds privacy (unfortunately Qatar Airways’ reverse herringbone seat doesn’t have this feature).

Cathay Pacific A330-300 business class, seat 12K

Cathay Pacific A330-300 business class, seat 12K

There’s quite a bit of privacy even if you’re seated in the center section, since you really do have to lean forward to talk to the person seated across from you.

Cathay Pacific business class cabin

The monitors “pop out” from the seats, and have to be stowed for taxi, takeoff, and landing.

Cathay Pacific A330-300 business class, seat 12K

Cathay Pacific business class entertainment screen

The seat has a good amount of legroom. There’s an ottoman of sorts, which you can place your feet on even when your seat is in the upright position.

Cathay Pacific business class legrest

Then to the right of the seat is the fold out tray table as well as an exposed storage compartment, which fits shoes, etc.

Cathay Pacific business class seat storage

All the seat controls are located at the top right of the seat. This includes the entertainment control, reading light, seat controls, power outlet, and a compartment with headphones and a mirror.

Cathay Pacific business class entertainment & seat controls

Also waiting at my seat were a plush pillow and blanket. The blanket was especially impressive, as it was quite thick.

Cathay Pacific business class pillow & blanket

Once settled in I was offered a pre-departure beverage by the purser, Kayce (on Cathay Pacific the purser is not in charge of the cabin — that title goes to the Inflight Service Manager). I just had a glass of water (interestingly there was no champagne on offer).

Cathay Pacific business class pre-departure water

Just about all the business class passengers seemed to arrive on the next bus, so the cabin was pretty chaotic for the next 15 minutes. I’ve always thought of the Maldives as more of a couples destination as opposed to a family destination, though this cabin suggested otherwise. Interestingly the business class cabin was populated almost exclusively by Chinese couples with toddlers. I don’t think I’ve ever in my life seen such a high concentration of toddlers/young kids in a cabin. No joke, at least a dozen of the business class seats were occupied by children under six. Best I could tell, I was the only passenger traveling alone, and one of the few passengers not traveling with a kid.

Not only that, but in most cases the young children were seated nowhere close to their parents, which made everything a bit chaotic. For the most part the parents weren’t good flyers (in the sense that they refused to follow crewmember instructions), and then add in their four year old kid seated separately from them five rows away, and the flight was a complete $hit show.

Once everyone was settled in amenity kits were distributed.

Cathay Pacific business class amenity kit

They were in a pretty cool expandable pouch, and featured toothpaste, a toothbrush, earplugs, eyeshades, socks, lip balm, hand cream, and moisturizer.

Cathay Pacific business class amenity kit contents

Cathay Pacific business class amenity kit contents

Shortly thereafter bottled water was distributed.

Cathay Pacific business class bottled water

Next, Kayce distributed the menu and wine list for the flight. Meanwhile inflight service manager Claire (who was incredibly charming and from the Philippines) came around to what I presume were the oneworld Emerald members to welcome them aboard and thank them for choosing Cathay Pacific. I had very loud babies seated both in front of me and across from me, so Claire said “I’m really sorry about this,” while glancing over at the cabin around me.

Cathay Pacific business class menu & wine list

We were running quite a bit late on departure, so at around 10:30PM the Australian captain came aboard to wish us a g’evening and inform us of our flight time of 5hr40min. He explained that we were a bit delayed on departure initially because of a late inbound aircraft, but the delay extended a bit beyond that.

He explained that Male Airport has just one runway which requires taxiing down the length of the runway before taking off, and that there’s limited taxiway “real estate.” So it would be another 20 minutes until we were cleared to push from our stand, but then we’d be taking off almost immediately.

Cathay Pacific airshow enroute from Male to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific airshow enroute from Male to Hong Kong

At around 10:40PM the cabin lights were dimmed and the safety video began to play. For a modern airline, Cathay Pacific sure does have an outdated safety video (the same is true for Singapore Airlines).

A330 business class cabin dimmed lighting

At 10:50PM we did in fact begin our pushback, and taxied onto the runway shortly after an Emirates 777 took off.

Emirates 777 Male Airport

We taxied for a couple of minutes on the runway, turned around, and then rocketed down runway 36, for a quick takeoff roll.

Taking off from Male Airport

As we climbed out I browsed the StudioCX entertainment selection, which was extensive.

Cathay Pacific StudioCX inflight entertainment

I eventually decided to watch a couple of episodes of Family Guy, given that I didn’t have the attention span for a movie, and also wanted to get to bed as soon as possible after dinner.

Cathay Pacific StudioCX inflight entertainment

Our climb out of Male was smooth, and after about 15 minutes the seatbelt sign was turned off.

Cathay Pacific airshow enroute from Male to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific airshow enroute from Male to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific airshow enroute from Male to Hong Kong

Male to Hong Kong is a painfully short redeye, even shorter than New York to London. So Cathay Pacific doesn’t serve breakfast on the flight, but instead just has a full dinner service after takeoff, which I think is smart. And while I would have liked to go straight to sleep, I was quite hungry given that I hadn’t eaten since lunch.

The dinner menu read as follows:


And the drink/wine list read as follows:




The cabin lights were left off throughout most of the meal service, given that many passengers opted to go straight to sleep. The entire service was done from a rather nice looking trolly, which was efficient, and nicer than the typical cart airlines use.

The starter consisted of smoked marlin and a salad with mozzarella. The marlin was a bit tough, though tasty enough. The salad was excellent.

Cathay Pacific business class dinner starter

Cathay Pacific business class dinner starter — smoked marlin

Cathay Pacific business class dinner starter — mixed salad with baby mozzarella

I was also offered a selection from the bread basket, and chose some garlic bread.

Cathay Pacific business class dinner — garlic bread

The service seemed to be a bit rushed, given that the crew didn’t even do a drink service before dinner. Instead they just served water with dinner, and then later a separate cart came through with drinks and nuts. That seemed a bit backwards, but I get that they were trying to make the service as efficient as possible, given the short duration and overnight hours.

Cathay Pacific business class dinner — Diet Coke and hot nuts

Rather than taking meal orders, all main course options were presented on the cart, which is a system I quite appreciate. It makes it easy to decide what you want based on how the various options look, rather than just how they’re described. I chose the tuna steak. The tuna steak was extremely well done. Though as far as extremely well done tuna steaks go, it was quite good, including the pepper sauce.

Cathay Pacific business class dinner main course — seared tuna steak

After the main course the crew came through with a trolley with both fruit and cheese. I selected some fruit. I appreciated that everything was plated from the trolley, so if there was anything you wanted more or less of, you could tell them.

Cathay Pacific business class dinner dessert — fresh seasonal fruit

Lastly the crew came through with the dessert cart, which included coffee and cake. Again, everything was plated on a trolley. There was a large cake on the cart, and then they’d cut you off a piece and plate it for you. That’s an especially nice touch, in my opinion.

Cathay Pacific business class dinner dessert — chocolate and coconut mousse cake

The service throughout the meal was efficient and friendly. The entire meal service was done about 75 minutes after takeoff, which was pretty good for such a short flight. The crew was friendly though clearly focused on trying to finish the service as quickly as possible. That’s to say that there were no proactive drink refills, but instead you had to request them, since the crew was almost always running through the aisles to get things done.

Once dinner was complete we had a bit over four hours left to go to Hong Kong, so I reclined my seat all the way. Between the excellent flat bed and comfortable pillow and blanket, it’s a pretty unbeatable business class seat. Landing cards for Hong Kong were also distributed at this point.

Cathay Pacific business class flat bed

Cathay Pacific business class flat bed

While I was ready to sleep, unfortunately the other passengers in the cabin made that a bit challenging, as there were a handful of babies crying at any given point. Fortunately I did eventually manage to fall asleep given how exhausted I was.

I woke up about 30 minutes before landing, as the captain did his pre-landing announcement, which as usual finished with “cabin crew, 30 minutes till landing.”

Airshow on approach into Hong Kong

At that point the lights in the cabin were slowly turned up and windowshades were opened. The crew came through the cabin with juice. I selected some orange juice, which was freshly squeezed.

Cabin on approach into Hong Kong

Unfortunately I was completely out of it. Usually I’m pretty functional when I wake up, though I was especially groggy this morning, and managed to spill the orange juice all over the side console of my seat. I apologized profusely to the flight attendant, and she offered me another glass… which I again spilled, this time all over my seat. FML!

Cathay Pacific business class pre-arrival orange juice

This time I was too embarrassed to tell the crew, so I ran to the lavatory to get some towels, and it showed as being unoccupied. Except when I opened the door there was a lady in there. Clearly I wasn’t thinking straight, because I still proceeded to grab paper towels and muttered “sorry, I spilled something,” while she gave me a death glare.

In retrospect I’m horrified, but in my sleep-induced state that all made perfect sense at the time.

View on approach into Hong Kong

Eventually we began our descent into Hong Kong, which was smooth. It was an overcast morning, so the views weren’t all that exceptional.

View on approach into Hong Kong

About 15 minutes before landing the seatbelt sign was turned on.

View on final approach into Hong Kong

We ended up touching down on runway 7R at 7:40AM.

Touchdown in Hong Kong

Airshow upon completion of the flight

From there it was a quick five minute taxi to gate 31.

Taxiing at Hong Kong Airport

Taxiing at Hong Kong Airport

Taxiing at Hong Kong Airport

Parking position Hong Kong Airport

We arrived on schedule, despite our nearly 50 minute delayed departure.

I bid farewell to the crew, and was ready to get some more sleep at the Regal Airport Hotel, before my flight to Newark.

Cathay Pacific business class bottom line

All things considered, Cathay Pacific offers one of the best business class products directly out of the Maldives. A lot of airlines have regional products out of Male, while Cathay Pacific offers their fully flat, longhaul product. While the flight to Hong Kong is a bit on the short side, you can’t beat the late night departure, which makes for easy same-day transfers from any resort in the Maldives.

The crew on this flight was very good, and the food perfectly edible. I was surprised by the number of young kids on the plane, which I wouldn’t have expected on a flight from the Maldives. But hey, there’s nothing you can do about that.

Given the cheap business class fares Cathay Pacific publishes out of the Maldives, they’re sort of an unbeatable option, if you ask me.

  1. Thanks for your review! I’ll be on that flight next year and am looking forward to it. Thanks to your post about cheap C fares ex-MLE, I was able to get MLE-HKG-SYD for $1400 in C. Not bad considering the other options. ^^

  2. Ben, we are really enjoying the Maldives posts. It looks as if Hong Kong was not overcast but covered in smog, which is a big problem for the area. Hong Kong is a wonderful city and it’s a shame the pollution has really started to sock it in.

  3. Was there any type of snack menu for this flight? Granted, since its a short redeye, I’m assuming they wouldn’t have one…

  4. One thing I’d add about the A330 with the new business class – the seat is decidedly smaller than the 777-300 (narrower hull I assume). You notice this in the table surfaces, the headphone compartment, and a bit in the seat width. All and all still a very nice product – but if there’s a choice the 777-300 with the flat beds (not the regional 777-300) it is a slightly better choice.

  5. @ beachfan — Yep, sure is (assuming it’s still operated by the plane with the 1-2-1 configuration, as it was before).

  6. That old lady part, I remember it from before, another post. Was it a preview I saw it on?
    Poor you! It must have been so embarrassing the next day to think about

  7. I literally lol-ed at this –

    “Clearly I wasn’t thinking straight, because I still proceeded to grab paper towels and muttered “sorry, I spilled something,” while she gave me a death glare.”

  8. “This time I was too embarrassed to tell the crew, so I ran to the lavatory to get some towels, and it showed as being unoccupied. Except when I opened the door there was a lady in there. Clearly I wasn’t thinking straight, because I still proceeded to grab paper towels and muttered “sorry, I spilled something,” while she gave me a death glare.”

    I have read these words before…methinks someone is “updating” posts for clicks.

  9. I had this seat from hong kong to kuala lumpur, and its perfect, but the thing I miss the most is Cathay garlic bread.

  10. Regarding the stowage of the IFE screen for takeoff and landing I find that depends on the cabin crew for the flight. I wasn’t asked to stow the screen on my recent SYD-HKG and HKG-SYD flights.

    The SYD-HKG flight also left at 10pm and dinner service was carried out in full.

    There is a separate shoe storage cubicle at feet level directly underneath the retractable armrest. The open storage area can be used for your water bottle and bag.

  11. @Guilherme – I had the garlic bread on all sectors of my SYD-HKG-ICN and vv itinerary and it was uniformly dry. Easily the least flavourful and impressive amongst the airlines I’ve flown that offer it – SQ, MH, EK.

  12. “… since the crew was almost always running through the aisles to get things done”.

    U should try flying CX for HKG-TPE. The FAs rush around like thumping elephants and you can hear them opening/closing everything with a loud bang in the galleys.

  13. Lol!
    I see a lot of videos, plane spotting, blogs, reviews and read a lot on them too.. and not once have I ever seen a video without an Emirates aircraft in it! They literally fly everywhere everytime!! Just amazing

  14. Hi Lucky,

    For couples flying together on A330-300, would you recommend the middle seats or A & D or K & G. I couldn’t tell or see very well if the middle seat has partitioned so would be hard to see & converse with your spouse during the trip.

    Thank you so much for your trip reports. They are always helpful in planning ours. Cheers!

  15. @ Lena — I would just do two seat together in the center, D & G. It won’t be perfect for talking, but by leaning forward a bit you should be able to communicate easily.

  16. I remember reading on CX’s website that the middle seats can be moved slightly forward when in the upright position so that two people traveling together could have casual chat without straining their necks.

  17. And I agree that CX probably has the best business class hard product out there. Perfect balance between privacy and freedom. The color scheme looks great too, calming, clean and modern.

  18. So, well written AND well documented with loads of nicely taken photos. I’m seriously considering taking Cathay Pacific Business Class from Dubai to Hongkong. There’s a whopping $800 difference in business class of Emirates and Cathay Pacific.

  19. Love your glib honesty. We’ve ALL spilled stuff on our seats, much to our embarrassment. Even Lucky is unlucky sometimes!

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